Seeking change

This week, in our continuing series of profiles of potential mayoral candidates, we talk to attorney Yossi Havilio

Yossi Havilio (photo credit: PR)
Yossi Havilio
(photo credit: PR)
This week, in our continuing series of profiles of potential mayoral candidates, we talk to attorney Yossi Havilio.
Who are you?
I am Yossi Havilio, married to Liora, father of three children. Bucking the trend, I have returned to live in Jerusalem. I am 58 years old, born in Jerusalem to a family that goes back 500 years in this city, even before the expulsion from Spain. I have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in law and public administration from the Hebrew University. I was a private lawyer for 15 years before I was appointed as legal adviser for the municipality in 2001 and for the work I did in that position, I was awarded the Movement for Quality Government Prize.
I founded Zahor, an association that represents residents in cases of injustice, freedom, public administration issues and more – pro bono, very often confronting the municipality when it neglects residents’ rights.

Why are you running?
I am running because Jerusalem is important to me. Jerusalem needs a change, and for now, I believe that I am the right person to bring that change. I believe that 25 years after Teddy Kollek, the people of Jerusalem are ready – and want – to vote for someone who truly represents their wishes, aspirations and needs. For the past few years, most of the votes were default votes, because there was no real alternative. All the candidates were part of acts and policies that have pulled Jerusalem backwards.
If we want a change, we need someone else; I believe I am that someone else required. Mayor Nir Barkat has failed.
He has a terrible relationship with the Treasury – that’s not the way to lead a city. Barkat has sent his employees to throw garbage near the Treasury; since when is throwing garbage at the entrance of the Finance Ministry a good policy for obtaining budgets?
Who are your voters?
First, the pluralist sector, but I will take care to be attentive to the needs of all the residents.

What will be your ticket for this campaign?
As I said – first of all, change – in the policy, in the priorities, in the way things are conducted. This city needs a significant change and I am sure I can bring that change.
What do you see as some of the key problems and how will you solve them?
Cleaning: Money and education.
We need to significantly enlarge the number of employees in the cleaning department, and at the same time, educate residents that they have to contribute to keeping the city’s streets clean. It is well-known that people tend to keep a clean place clean and will more easily add dirt where it is already dirty.
Affordable housing: I will see that projects (like “Mehir Lamishtaken”) promoted by the Treasury will be enhanced.
It is absurd that Jerusalem, the poorest city in the country, derives the least benefit from this project.
We have enough plots here, but it is all bogged down because of the disconnect between Barkat and [Finance Minister Moshe]Kahlon. Another possibility is to initiate construction of projects in the “brown areas” – those which are reserved for public use only – to build apartments there that will be only for rent. If I am elected mayor, that will be one of my first steps.
Emigration of the young generation: The most frequently cited factors that drive so many young adults, couples and families away are lack of employment opportunities and affordable housing, but there is a third reason: the fear of haredization of pluralist neighborhoods and closure of entertainment venues on Shabbat. In order to solve this problem, I would build housing for haredim in their neighborhoods. Once that is done, any haredi who wishes to live in a pluralist neighborhood will have to take into consideration that it doesn’t fit his preferences, but that is the rule.
Haredim who want to live in secular neighborhoods will not obtain kindergartens or schools there – in order to preserve the secular and pluralist character of these neighborhoods. If a public building is not in use in a secular neighborhood, I will keep it empty and not hand it over to any haredi group, because that invites more haredim to establish themselves in secular neighborhoods. That is a mistake I will not make.

Lack of employment opportunities
: I will ensure that all public and governmental institutions that are supposed to be in the city will indeed come here.

Tension between haredi and pluralist sectors
: I will not give less to the haredim when I become mayor, but I will not enable haredim to move into pluralist and secular neighborhoods and create the tension that chases away so many young adults and couples. It is not the mayor’s job to open a bar or a restaurant on Shabbat, but at least he shouldn’t close one, as happened with the Mifletzet bar. Haredim will obtain what they need, but not at the expense of the pluralist sector.
What are your plans regarding the Arab sector?
There is an urgent need to improve the infrastructure and dramatically improve the quality of life for the Arab residents. I am for a united city and if the city is united, its Arab residents are equal residents and deserve the same budgets.
How are you financing your campaign? I finance my campaign through legal donations and with my own money, in addition to a personal loan.
What is your relevant experience?
I was legal adviser for the municipality for nine years and I have been dealing closely with a wide range of issues regarding the functioning of the municipality since I left.
If Barkat decides to run again, will you run, join his list or just withdraw from the campaign? I am running in order to become mayor of Jerusalem.
What is the most important quality needed to be mayor of Jerusalem?
Leadership and courage. To be ready to fight for your own values. In regard to Jerusalem specifically, I would say sensitivity, the capacity to understand people.